Cheap holidays, cheap skiing, cheap flights, cheap food and drink, and of course cheap property -- 'Cheap' has been the main attraction for British investors buying into Bulgaria.However, big changes are in the air with an increasing number of foreign investors and Hollywood A-listers buying up the more exclusive high-end property.
Antonio Banderas, who already owns property in Spain, is amongst "Hollywood royalty" spending many months in the capital filming The Code, due for release this year, along with Morgan Freeman who has revealed his interest in purchasing a block of executive apartments in Sofia.
The newly renovated film studio in Sofia has created a house-hunting frenzy from top filmmakers and celebrities. Nu Image has strategically snapped up the previously state-run film studio in Sofia for US$9.2 million in a bid to cut massive production costs that the company faces in the US.
Rock legend Lenny Kravitz has also put Sofia firmly on the superstar map. The "Get on the Bus with the Love Revolution" tour will descend on Sofia's Akademik Stadium on 27th July 2008. Huge interest for the Ј15 tickets has been created, with international fans taking advantage of a cut-price city break. Pink is also due to hit the city in July along with Marilyn Manson, Michael Bolton, and Vanessa Mae.
Sofia is home to the majority of the country's 200,000 millionaires with many ready to pay over Ђ3,000 per sq. m. for a city centre complex. The rich list is prepared to buy an entire floor for 2000 sq. m of complete exclusivity with the added bonus of a specially commissioned ramp for sports cars such as Ferrari and Lamborghini in the underground car park.
Overseas property writer, Zoe Dare Hall, suggests that British property investors, who make up 67% of all foreign buyers in Bulgaria, are missing out on hugely bullish Sofia property investments.
The need for larger, more luxurious properties in prime city, beach and ski locations dictates the market evolution. Additionally, rising demand is originating from foreigners working for the big multinationals in Sofia and from Bulgaria's emerging middle to high classes, for properties within commuting distance of the capital.
James Gonzalez, Market Analyst at Obelisk comments, "Luxury properties are still within an affordable range for many overseas buyers, compared with more traditional markets (such as Spain or Portugal). A luxury apartment in Sofia's commuter belt averages around Ј100,000 - you would be hard pressed to find a good apartment in the Costa del Sol for that price."
The growing demand for top-end properties is prompting developers to raise the quality levels of new properties, with a number of developments now offering well-executed design and superior build qualities. Generally, property prices have remained very competitive.
Sofia is an excellent commuter base with budget airlines, such as Wizz air, servicing routes all across Europe. The airline will also be offering internal flights to the town of Kavarna - known as the 'Rock Capital of the Balkans', with headline acts such as Motorhead, Led Zeppelin's front man Robert Plant and musicians from Black Sabbath, all kicking off the Kaliakra Rock Fest in July.
The country is also upgrading ski facilities including a Ј345 million Super Borovets project - a major development in the country's most popular ski resort. Spa tourism is also on the up and steering the market further towards the more upmarket investors and holidaymakers.
"Since Bulgaria's EU accession foreign buyers' confidence in the country has grown immensely. British buyers, who still believe Bulgaria to be a destination for low end investment rather than a second home or luxury rental investment, need to revisit the market."
"With the rising demand and the low supply of quality new builds, British overseas property investors need to look at why the rest of Europe views Bulgaria, and in particular Sofia property investments, so differently."
Obelisk strongly recommends that investors should do their research before embarking on an overseas property purchase.
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